Category: <span>Local Government News</span>

11 December 2020 Media Release: COVID-19 Business Safety Kits rolled out in the Garden Route District

Media Release: COVID-19 Business Safety Kits rolled out in the Garden Route District

For Immediate Release
11 December 2020

The Garden Route District Municipality recently received a total of 1000 COVID-19 business safety kits from the Western Cape Provincial Government (WCG), Department of Economic Development and Tourism. These are already being distributed to Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and informal traders in the Garden Route district.

This intervention by the WCG is primarily geared towards supporting businesses, to safeguard jobs and the economy during the present COVID-19 crisis.  Furthermore, to guide and assist businesses to implement the necessary safety and health protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and to protect clientele.

The COVID-19 business safety kit has been designed to enable SMMEs and informal traders to operate their business safely and responsibly, with each kit containing:

  • two bottles of alcohol-based sanitizer – for hands and surfaces;
  • ten (10) re-usable cloth face masks;
  • information posters on preparing and staying safe before work, how to be safe at work and while taking breaks. It also contains information on what to do when returning home from work, and leaflets for customers on shopping safely.

These COVID-19 business safety kits are currently being distributed to small business and informal traders identified by the local municipalities in hotspot areas across the district. The process is managed by the Local Economic Development Managers of the respective municipalities. All recipients of these safety kits will sign a register upon receipt for record and audit purposes. The distribution process will be completed by middle December.

The project aims to reduce the current rate of community-related infection spreading, assisting and enabling businesses to stay open and also illustrate how COVID-19 can be managed responsibly, allowing businesses to operate and for more businesses to open.

In addition to the COVID-19 business safety kits project, the Western Cape Provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism also provide other workplace safety support and resources with regards to preparing the workplace; preventing infections and managing workplace infections.

9 December 2020 Executive Mayor’s Speech – GRDM Council meeting

Executive Mayor’s Speech – GRDM Council meeting on 9 December 2020

Mr Speaker,


I’m still tired of last night’s by-elections – this region once again proved itself that we can work together.

Mr Speaker, I would like to congratulate all the winners of last night – all the different political parties. We will still work together – there were no incidents of which I am aware of, therefore very well done to all the politicians.


Last Friday we had a visit by the National Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkize, and also the Western Cape MEC of Health, Honorable Nomafrench Mbombo and all the relevant role-players, partners, stakeholders and front-line people – all joined under one roof and all eyes are on us as the Garden Route as to what will be the next step in terms of addressing the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is evident that the numbers are still increasing and we are therefore pleading with the people, that all of this is in our own hands – we can only confront this if we stick to the basics and that we are not going to get tired in alerting people on what we are supposed to do. To reflect on that meeting, our gratitude of GRDM, on behalf of all the local municipalities, all the frontline people dealing with this pandemic – we know you do the best that you can. We are very fortunate in the sense that we do have the facilities in the Western Cape, in particularly the Garden Route.

The challenge is that the facilities will be strained if the numbers continue to grow and then we will exhaust our human resources such as medical doctors, nurses, to name a few. We are sincerely asking the people to take that into account – their behaviour will determine the outcome of the Garden Route. The President of the Republic of South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa, will make an announcement what will be the next step for the Garden Route. We’ve managed to put together a broader Joint Task Team initiative, which includes a broader spectrum – medical doctors, fire fighters, law enforcement officers, the South African Police Service, the Department of Labour, etc.

Again, out of this initiative, we have now embarked on spot-checks where we visit premises – I must say out of those spot-checks, we’ve already closed down some businesses in George and Hessequa, because they were found to be non-compliant. We are strictly monitoring the regulations as well. To all the business people out there and everybody else, we will be visiting business premises for inspections to see if people indeed comply.

The next focus will be on businesses in the hospitality industry and recreation spaces. We will unfortunately have to close any business down should they not comply. We are sick and tired of people not taking this pandemic seriously. We as GRDM, will be issuing more than 1 000 Covid-19 kits to be distributed to informal businesses.


Also, as a reminder to the people of the Garden Route, we did embark on a project in relation to fighting illegal dumping – it is a battle that we’re still engaging in. As soon as we have cleared certain areas, people go and dump again – it is a matter of education. People must not think that if we clear an illegal dumpsite, that it is regarded as a collecting point. These behaviours lead to comorbidities – we will start acting against offenders. We therefore encourage all communities in the Garden Route to also put ears and eyes in the streets, to identify the culprits and deal with them accordingly. To date, we have already cleared 100 cubic meters of waste. We realise there is still plenty to be done, but the roll-out of the project will continue with skips that were placed at illegal dumping hotspots.


This is also the last Council meeting for 2020 and on that note; I would like to wish all the councillors, officials and all our stakeholders, a Merry Christmas and a BETTER 2021. This year, 2020, has been tough on all of us. I also know because of the pandemic, meetings will still continue virtually – please be on standby if this happens.

I thank you.

8 December 2020 Media Release: Environmental Health Practitioners and Firefighters roll out more COVID-19 awareness at taxi-ranks

Media Release: Environmental Health Practitioners and Firefighters roll out more COVID-19 awareness at taxi-ranks

For Immediate Release
8 December 2020

Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) recently again embarked on awareness activities at taxi ranks in all municipal areas of the district in an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 amongst passengers, the elderly, vulnerable community members and communities in general. The initiative took place from 30 November to 4 December 2020.

As part of awareness sessions, GRDM EHPs and Firefighters from the GRDM and local municipalities in the region currently also focus on disinfection of public places and premises where people gather on a frequent basis – taxi ranks are included during these sessions. Although taxi ranks and mini-bus taxis are allowed to operate, taxi rank areas must be cleaned frequently with soap and water or detergents during their operating hours, as well as after it.  These activities will protect taxi drivers and passengers from contracting the virus. Added to the cleansing activities, drivers of mini-bus taxis are not allowed to permit any member of the public access to a taxi, if such a person is not wearing a mask. Passengers, drivers, guards and rank attendants must at all times wear a mask.

Any person can become infected with COVID-19 if they touch contaminated surfaces and then their face, eyes, nose or mouth or if they have come in close contact with persons who are infected.

Do the following:

Wipe down the surfaces at the taxi ranks with a diluted bleach solution (6 teaspoons of bleach in 1 litre water) while the rank is in use.

Steps to clean the outside of the minibus taxi:

  • Wash the minibus taxi daily with soap and water; and
  • Disinfect with a diluted bleach solution (6 teaspoons of bleach in 1 litre water -it is important to always wear gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces).

Steps to clean the inside of the minibus taxi:

  • Wipe the door handles thoroughly, as well as window ledges and seats with diluted bleach solution (6 teaspoons of bleach in 1 litre water).
  • Leave windows open.

Precautionary measures:

  • Passengers waiting in queues must keep a distance of 1.5m from the next person. Use the markers as a guide and avoid contact with other passengers.
  • Individual passengers must not open the taxi doors, as the taxi door must be left open while waiting for passengers.
  • Passengers are encouraged to limit contact with hand rails, vehicle doors etc.
  • Only the attendant is allowed to open and close doors when picking up passengers along the route.
  • Spray passengers’ hands with 70% alcohol–based hand sanitisers to clean their hands before they enter the minibus.
  • The driver or attendant must rub their hands for 20 seconds with alcohol-based hand sanitiser after taking money from each commuter and request passengers to pay exact taxi fares if possible to limit contact with attendants and money.
  • Although 100 % of the licensed capacity is allowed if not a long distanced trip, passengers have to sit as far from each other as possible. Long-distance trips are limited to carry 70% of the licensed capacity of the taxi.
  • Windows must be kept open to allow fluid droplets to escape in case a passenger coughs or sneezes during the trip.
  • Door handles must be sanitised, as well as windows ledges and seats, after each trip.
  • The entire inside of the vehicle must be cleaned with soap or usual cleaning materials and must be disinfected at least twice a day.


7 December 2020 Media Release: “Communities should champion the containment of COVID-19”

Media Release: “Communities should champion the containment of COVID-19”

For Immediate Release
7 December 2020

These are the words of Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize, who visited the Garden Route District Municipality on 5 December 2020. Dr Mkhize visited the district to touch base with some of the most critical role players involved in the Garden Route District COVID-19 response. He also said that it is important to understand the nature of the problem of why the COVID-19 numbers are climbing in the Garden Route. He referred to the Garden Route as part of a “belt” along the coast of South Africa, adjacent to other areas of huge concern, including Sarah Baartman District Municipality and Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality.

Dr Mkhize made it clear that issues presented to him will be discussed with the Coronavirus Command Council, who will subsequently consider issuing further restrictions. He made it clear that the intent of National Government has always been to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and lessen the pressure on hospitals. He also urged Alderman Memory Booysen, Executive Mayor for GRDM, to identify issues that all municipalities agree upon and communicate such recommendations to his office.

A range of stakeholders were present at the engagement between National, Provincial and Local Government stakeholders.

The enforcement of Covid-19 related Disaster Regulations is still an issue facing all municipalities. GRDM has already implemented a training programme for the deployment of additional law enforcement officers to assist local municipalities with COVID-19 related enforcement.

Representatives from the health sector echoed the sentiment that higher levels of trauma are again experienced at hospitals since restrictions on the sale of alcohol and curfews were lifted. “At the moment it seems that such admissions are back at what it was at a pre-COVID-19 level,” said Michael Vonk, CEO for George Hospital.

Dr Terrence Marshall, who is responsible for leading the Garden Route Command Centre’s health response, stated that hospitals are under sustained pressure. “We have specific strengths in our district, which include the competence, ability and motivation of our people,” he said. “Our staff is resilient and we shall continue to do what we have to do.”

Dr Marshall praised the inter-sectoral cooperation, which has been the cornerstone of the coordinated response by the region’s various clusters that report to the Garden Route Command Centre on a weekly basis. “Our systems are in place, there is no doubt about that; the systems are working well,” Marshall said. He shared his concerns about the extent of what the near future may hold due to the fast approaching holiday season, accompanied by many visitors to the district from various parts of the country. “We need to carefully consider how to manage the situation going forward,” Marshall concluded.

After listening to all the presentations by executive mayors, the health sector and GRDM Disaster Management, Dr Mkhize commended stakeholders on the coordinated and combined approach to curb the spread of COVID-19. “One of the most important factors, for me, is the attitudes of cooperation I see here today.” He also welcomed any further ideas from the Garden Route that could be emulated in the rest of the country.

Minister Mkhize stated that he is of the firm belief that it is possible for the region to prevail over the current COVID-19 outbreak. “I am optimistic about the Garden Route’s ability to recover,” he said, while not specifically mentioning which other districts do not have structures and effective combined approaches in place like the Garden Route. He urged stakeholders to engage at a community-level to ensure that civil society, labour and communities at large fully understand their role in curbing COVID-19. “A unified message about COVID-19 and the importance of how to prevent the spread must be promoted by mayors and influencers,” he said.

Dr Zweli Mkhize, National Minister of Health (left) and Alderman Memory Booysen, Executive Mayor for Garden Route District Municipality, listen attentively to the feedback of all stakeholders.

He also highlighted the following:

  • we can’t afford higher numbers and we must intervene to ensure that our health system is not overrun;
  • a vaccine will take a couple of months to reach South Africa and it is therefore not an immediate local solution;
  • the festive season is a concern as it might represent a resurgence in COVID-19 infections;
  • the surge of infections coincided with the lifting of the restriction of movement;
  • monitoring of COVID-19 is far more accurate, why it is possible to single out districts that face issues of rising active cases;
  • National Government is in favour of a risk-adjusted response per area as risks are not the same in all areas;
  • available beds at health facilities in the Garden Route is becoming an issue, as experienced in other parts of the country;
  • healthcare workers all over the country are experts in how to deal with COVID-19 as they’ve dealt with a surge in COVID-19 cases before;
  • the fear of COVID-19 has subsided amongst many healthcare workers because of their knowledge and experience, but psychosocial needs must also be attended to;
  • he highlighted the benefits of the newly rolled out antigen testing which speeds up tests;
  • alcohol-related trauma is still an issue that places additional strain on the entire healthcare system. He explained that those admitted because of diabetes, cancer or other illnesses are placed second in line because of alcohol-related emergency admissions. Those admitted for such admissions were either stabbed or injured in a motor vehicle accident related to intoxication;
  • he welcomed proposals by stakeholders to promote the responsible consumption of alcohol by considering a reduction in trading hours and hours of onsite consumption. Dr Mkhize said that such a decision would have to be carefully balanced with the industry’s revenue, as alcohol sales increase by 25-30% during the December holidays and businesses must recover;
  • on the issue of border control between the Eastern and Western Cape, he used the example of Limpopo where it did not work, saying that the issue must be discussed further;
  • he agreed that law enforcement needs to be bumped up and, where possible, by-laws should be utilised;
  • he requested more discussions surrounding the influx of tourists from all over South Africa to the region’s coast and how congestion would be managed be held;
  • the queues at pay points remain a problem and better solutions must be sought to lower the congestion at these sites; and
  • initiation season remains suspended because of COVID-19. Dr Mkhize said those not abiding by the law should be charged accordingly.

Feature image caption 1: National Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize; Executive Mayor for Garden Route District Municipality, Alderman Memory Booysen; Western Cape Government MEC for Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo; and Western Cape Government MEC for Human Settlements, Mr Tertuis Simmers.

More photos f the day:


8 December 2020 Save the date: Memorial Service of the late Councillor Mputumi Putco Mapitiza

Save the date: Memorial Service of the late Councillor Mputumi Putco Mapitiza

On Tuesday, 8 December 2020, Councillors and Staff of Garden Route District Municipality will be celebrating the life of our late Councillor, Cllr Mputumi Putco Mapitiza, during a virtual Memorial Service that will be hosted from the Council Chambers of the Municipality in George.

Cllr Mapitiza sadly passed away on 3 December 2020.

Members of the public are invited to join the Memorial Service through the Municipality’s Zoom platform on:

The Service will also be live-streamed on the Municipality’s Youtube channel at:

Rest in Peace Mputumi Putco Mapitiza.

3 December 2020 Media Release: Garden Route COVID-19 update – 3 December 2020

Media Release: Garden Route COVID-19 update – 3 December 2020

For Immediate Release
3 December 2020
The Garden Route has seen a 26% (525) increase in cases the last seven days compared to the previous seven days. Areas of most concern are Bitou, Knysna, George and Mossel Bay. We have also noted an increase in cases in Oudtshoorn and Hessequa.
New cases per subdistrict in the Garden Route
Active cases 14 days ago
New active cases over last seven days
Percentage increase
1 032
Mossel Bay
Garden Route
2 034
2 559
Of concern is the 67 new deaths recorded over this period.
George Regional Hospital is currently under severe pressure, as patients from district hospitals are admitted here for more advanced health interventions. George Hospital currently has 67 COVID patients admitted of which 22 are in high care. They also have 52 staff members who are currently infected by COVID.  “The hospital is under immense pressure and we are trying to make space for as many patients as possible. We have already commissioned 3 additional wards to treat COVID-19 patients, all the while also ensuring we have capacity for other routine emergencies such as trauma cases ”, said Michael Vonk, CEO George Hospital.
The hospital uses a daily average of 2.6 tons of oxygen to treat patients, compared to the daily average of 356kg/day in May 2020 (pre-COVID-19) which is more than during the previous wave (max 2.2 tons /day).
Knysna Hospital is also under severe pressure. On 4 December they had 40 patients admitted. “We have opened additional wards to accommodate the increasing number of COVID patients, and have recruited additional staff to assist. We are definitely under pressure, but have effective plans in place to deal with this surge”, said Dr Andries Brink, medical manager Knysna/Bitou subdistricts.
Harry Comay Hospital has converted two wards into COVID wards with an additional building, which was built during wave 1, which can take 20 patients. The hospital currently has 28 patients.
Testing sites across the district, especially in sub-districts with rising number of cases, are also testing to capacity on a daily basis. Two additional National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) busses have been deployed to Knysna and George in an attempt to keep up with the high volumes of tests needed.
Areas of most concern:
Mossel Bay: KwanonQaba, Hartenbos, D’Almeida and Heiderand.
George: Themabelthu, Pacaltsdorp, Parkdene, Rosemore, Borcherds, Blanco
Knysna: Smutsville, Concordia, Khayalethu
Oudtshoorn: Bridgeton
Bitou: Plettenberg Bay
Riversdale: Albertinia
We urge residents to be safe this festive season. Avoid crowded places, close contact settings and areas with poor ventilation.
Nadia Ferreira
Principal Communications Officer
Garden Route and Central Karoo Districts
Western Cape Government Health

20 July 2020 Media Release: National Minister of Health visiting the Garden Route District

Media Release: National Minister of Health visiting the Garden Route District

For Immediate Release
20 July 2020

Pictured above, (fltr): National Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize; Executive Mayor for Garden Route District Municipality, Alderman Memory Booysen; Western Cape Government MEC for Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo; and Western Cape Government MEC for Human Settlements, Mr Tertuis Simmers.

The Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, is currently visiting the Garden Route District Municipality to touch base with all the role players involved in the COVID-19 response of the Garden Route District.

The program of the day includes feedback about the health system recovery; resurgence strategy; mayoral feedback; feedback to the JOC; and hotspot strategies.

The visit will end with a site visit to the George regional hospital and the Harry Comay hospital.

3 December 2020 Media Release: Garden Route DM loses Councillor to COVID-19

Media Release: Garden Route DM loses Councillor to COVID-19

For immediate release
3 December 2020

It is with great sadness that the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) announces the passing of Councillor Putco Mphuthumi Mapitiza, an ANC (African National Congress) Councillor from Plettenberg Bay who has succumbed to COVID-19.

The late Councillor Mapitiza was directly elected as councillor to serve on the Garden Route District Municipal Council. He also served on numerous committees, including the Property and Asset Management Committee, the Workplace and Restructuring Committee and the Strategic Services Committee.  Mapitiza is described by councillors who worked alongside him as a true leader; an outstanding servant of the people; a prolific commissar and a revolutionary who loved life.

GRDM Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen, recalled meeting the late Putco Mapitiza in 1989 while participating in boxing, whereafter they became inspiring partners, practising and attending tournaments together. Booysen said on a ‘lighter note’, “He (Mapitiza) was lucky, he retired undefeated in boxing”.  Alderman Booysen remembered recruiting Putco into youth politics in 1994-1995 with the help of the present ANC Member of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, Mr Lulama Mvimbi, whereafter the three of them became political associates.  After ‘graduating’ into fulltime politics and years later, Booysen (who later joined the Democratic Alliance) and Mapitiza both became councillors at the GRDM.  “We will all remember Putco and especially me, as somebody who had no grey areas in his personality.  What you saw was what you got, and one either agreed or disagreed with him. He was not a pretender in terms of expressing his political ideologies. I do believe that his passing is a great loss to the Garden Route as a whole. I am saddened that in this instance I am not just losing a friend or a former sports partner, but a brother too – MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE,” Alderman Booysen concluded.

GRDM’s ANC Chief Whip and long-time “comrade’’ of the late Mapitiza, Alderman Pieter Van der Hoven, remembers him as a visionary, a shepherd and a sober thinker, at the forefront of technology, who was loved by all who dealt with him. “The value Comrade Putco added to the ANC, as well as being a community leader, remains incomparable. As a councillor, he was dedicated, strategic and directional with a reasoned judgement. He was highly respected and had an unsurpassed sense of humour.  Putco’s death is a huge shock and loss to the greater organisation in the region and the community,” Van der Hoven said.

Alderman Virgil Gericke, President of the Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners (PBI) and fellow councillor at GRDM, furthermore described Mapitiza as a present gentleman, a true cadre loyal to the course of freedom and justice.

The late Councillor Putco Mphuthumi Mapitiza served as the former ANC Regional Secretary in the Southern Cape, as well as Ex Officio on the Provincial Executive Committee of the ANC.

As we enter the festive season and with the second wave of COVID-19 in ‘full bloom’, the GRDM wants to call on the public to continue adhering to safe and hygienic behaviours, to stay vigilant and always wear a mask in public, to avoid large gatherings and continue practising social distancing.


3 December 2020 Media Release: GRDM holds its 4th IDP, Budget and Performance Management System Representative Forum

Media Release: GRDM holds its 4th IDP, Budget and Performance Management System Representative Forum

Immediate release
3 December 2020

Last week on 24 November 2020, the fourth Garden Route District Integrated Development Planning, Budget and Performance Management Systems Representative Forum took place, since Council took office in 2015. The event took the form of a webinar as a result of the rapid increase in Covid-19 active cases in the region.

The purpose of this event was for all municipalities in the Garden Route District to provide an overview, scope, services delivered and challenges relating to planned capital projects and services to be rendered by the respective municipalities to their communities. The municipalities also provided status quo assessments and reflected on their 2019/2020 Annual Performance. They furthermore had to indicate what support they require to ensure that service delivery in their respective municipal areas can indeed take place.

The event was opened by Councillor Rowan Spies, Portfolio Chairperson for Roads and Transport Services at Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) who welcomed all participants to the webinar including: Mayors, Deputy Mayors from B-municipalities and Councillors, as well as Sector Department representatives. He also reminded participants that they remain part of this winning plan during these times.

Mr Monde Stratu, the GRDM Municipal Manager, during his address cautioned participants and the public to take extra care during this time as the Garden Route experience a resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic. With reference to the event and its purpose, he emphasised the concept of public participation and said that the forum forms a structural link between municipalities and the public by informing the interest groups of relevant planning activities and outcomes. “It is also a platform for analysing integrated issues affecting various sectors to determine priorities, strategies, projects and programmes and to identify budgets,” Stratu said.

Executive Mayor, Alderman Booysen, together with Speaker Barnie Groenewald (left) and  Deputy Executive Deputy Mayor, Alderlady Rosina Ruiters (2nd left) on 14 October 2020, hand over products and essentials to SMMEs of the Garden Route, as part of the SMME Development Programme of the GRDM.

Executive Mayor of GRDM, Alderman Memory Booysen, during his address, spoke about the district’s 2019/2020 plans and projects. He also gave an overview and shared the highlights of the 2019/2020 Annual Performance Report, as well as the current status of projects that are already underway. He referred to the vision of the municipality and said that the municipality uses its vision to directly take the lead  and support and/or enable B-municipalities in terms of their needs in the form of partnerships. He concluded by saying that it also provides the projection for the municipality while ensuring that residents of the district have a high quality of life and that there are equal opportunities for all. He further stated that by achieving this, the municipality proves that it works hand-in-hand with B-municipalities of the district. The current focus is on the following programmes including: community safety programmes, food security, potential district food bank that are under currently discussions, as well as programme that focuses on the priority of the health of the residents. By ensuring inclusiveness in the roll-out of projects, he stated that the GRDM has good working relations with the Western Cape Government and National Government Departments.

Mayor Booysen, during his address, said that GRDM is training the youth of the GRDM, through Apprenticeship, Learnerships and Bursary programmes, so that the District has the relevant skills in the area.

Mayor Booysen also mentioned the influx of residents of the Eastern Cape to the Western Cape, hence the increase in the population of the Garden Route, according to the projections,” he said. With job losses being a big concern, when referring to the 15,6 % unemployment rate of the region’s citizens, he said that the youth are being the hardest hit by unemployment.

In further highlighting the achievements of the GRDM, which include the Garden Route being one of best film destinations, Alderman Booysen said:  “The GRDM have contributed R200 000 to make sure that we deal with the basics of the film industry”. He further highlighted that the district has one of the biggest Roads Services Departments of the Western Cape; therefore construction plays a major role in terms of the vastness of the Garden Route district.

While sharing possible solutions for job losses and unemployment, he said: “To be able to create jobs, we need to deal with infrastructure projects that have the potential to create jobs and put food on the table. “District projects include the roofing of the municipality’s resort (Calitzdorp Spa Resort), the Regional Landfill Facility project, although discussions are still ongoing, etc” he said. Mayor Booysen further confirmed that more than R10 million have been spent on projects such as Law Enforcement; assistance with Early Childhood Development to help get children to get off the street; and Expanded Public Works Programmes, e.g. disinfecting of public areas in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Drivers Licence Programme was also mentioned; however he raised his concern relating to some learners who dropped out of the programme, even though the municipality carries all the costs relating to the programme.  He therefore encouraged the youth that are enrolled to these programmes to make a success of the opportunities and put all their energy into it.

Programmes such as the Cater Care Programme to train the youth to fill up spaces in the Hospitality Industry, the Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME) Programme which the municipality invested R500 000 towards identifying and assisting struggling SMMEs in the area, were also highlighted.  In conclusion he said, that communication with all stakeholders during the pandemic is open and the municipality encourages members of the public, businesses and stakeholders to use these platforms to communicate their experiences, “advise us, so that we can tap into other resources to ensure that the Garden Route is open for business”. Mayor Booysen further acknowledged that none of the projects can be implemented without the support of stakeholders. ”If we all do what is expected from us, then we will definitely change the livelihoods of the people of the Garden Route.

Mayor Booysen further referred to the Illegal Dumping Project which is currently rolled out in George with the rest to all the areas to follow. “With this, we are extending the hand of the local municipalities to change people’s lives.” Mayor Booysen further admitted that approximately R32 million would be needed to assist all towns, but the GRDM is starting on a small scale by reaching out to George. One of the most ground-breaking projects that are currently under discussions, according to Mayor Booysen, is a level-1 housing accreditation which the municipality applied for. He admits that there is a shortage of middle income housing “and with our available land we want local municipalities to work hand-in-hand with us to provide middle income housing to residence of the area”. Student accommodation is also under discussion,” he said. Learnerships, internships and apprenticeships are rolled out to which Alderman Booysen added that with these programmes the GRDM is training the youth of thr district to be ready for when opportunity knocks on our doors and so that we have the relevant skills in our area. “We can only achieve all of this, if we work together, share information, we assist each other, partner with Non-Governmental and Faith Based Organisations, as well as partners at provincial and national level to make sure that whatever we do, we put the lives of our people first,”. Mayor Booysen concluded.

Most presentations made by local municipalities, revolved around concerns relating to businesses that closed down in their respective municipal areas and as a result thereof, many people were retrenched or lost their jobs or earn reduced wages. Municipal revenue collection was also negatively impacted by the national lockdown and drought still poses a threat to water security in the Klein Karoo and Kannaland municipal areas, to name a few.

Hospitals or 24/7 health facilities, high schools and primary schools, old age homes and rehabilitation centres, were amongst the critical support needed by municipalities as presented by municipal officials. Assistance with land for agriculture purposes and assistance to small farmers, as well as vegetable gardens were also made mentioned of.  With the ongoing crime in the district, some municipalities also indicated their need for satellite police stations to increase police visibility and improved services. With the new normal as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the less fortunate are still the most vulnerable because it demands fibre connectivity and mostly the vulnerable can’t afford data and are unable to work from home.

Municipalities now rely on and anticipate that large infrastructure projects will turn the district economy around. Various projects have already commenced with others in the pipeline and in progress. More information regarding these identified projects can be viewed on the GRDM website.

Support by Sector Departments has also been presented by representatives at the Forum. These departments include: the Western Cape Government Department of Agriculture, Western Cape Government Department of Community Safety, Western Cape Government Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Western Cape Government Department of Environmental Affairs & Development Planning, Western Cape Government Department of Health and the Western Cape Government Department of Human Settlements. National Departments Water and Sanitation and ESKOM also presented their projects and plans for the Garden Route. Detailed information about these projects is also available on the municipality’s website.

The event was successfully directed by the Executive Manager for Planning and Economic Development, Mr Lusanda Menze, and organised by the IDP and Public Participation team of GRDM.